The 2003 Monty’s Pass national hero has died aged 29

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  • The brilliant racehorse Monty’s Pass, who won the Grand National in 2003 with jockey Barry Geraghty, has died aged 29.

    The Jimmy Mangan-trained gelding won eight of his 57 races and was placed in dozens more during an impressive career over fences. Among his greatest achievements were winning the Kerry National in 2002 and the Aintree show the following year.

    He retired from the sport in 2005 and lived out his days on the Mangan family farm in Cork and was the oldest living winner of the Grand National until his death last week, just short of his 30th birthday.

    His regular jockey Barry Geraghty credits Monty’s Pass with giving him one of the greatest moments of his career and last visited the “brilliant” gelding in September.

    “I couldn’t believe how alert and sharp he was – you wouldn’t believe for a second that he was approaching 30,” Barry said. H&H. “Unfortunately, he just got away last week.

    “Jimmy and the whole Mangan family have been great friends of mine over the years so we would always talk about him. We even brought our kids to visit it in 2019 which was great – even our youngest son was able to stand on it and we got some great photos.

    “He’s been so well looked after by the Mangans and the yard boys, he’ll be sorely missed down there.”

    Barry Geraghty and Monty's Pass won the 2003 Grand National

    The son of Montelimar started in a point-to-point before running and Barry first took the reins of a seven-year-old Monty’s Pass in 2000. The pair finished fifth in the Mildmay of Fleet Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002 and were second in the Topham Chase over Aintree fences shortly afterwards, but their breakthrough moment came in 2003 when they won the Grand National by an astonishing 12 lengths in Dee Racing Syndicate colours.

    “When you dream of winning the Grand National as a kid, it’s a titanic battle to the line and you win by a short head, you never dream of winning the Grand National celebrating with 100 meters to go,” said Barry, who was just 23 years when he claimed the sport’s most famous race. “The race just went for him – it was ridiculously easy how it all worked out. It was just magic.

    “The Grand National is the race that everyone wants to win, so to win one so early in my career was incredible. He was brilliant there, he was such a good jumper. The National is all about jumping, obviously, but he was so neat and nimble, quick and smart, it was an armchair ride for a young jockey at Aintree.

    Trainer Jimmy Mangan had been aiming for the Grand National since 2003 and according to Barry the conditions were ideal for Monty’s Pass that year.

    “The pitch was the key for him – he needed a good pitch and the better the pitch the better,” Barry said. “So once the ground came right for him, with the way he jumped and he was the perfect weight, 10st 7lb, the conditions were ideal, so as much as you can imagine a horse for that race, I did- a.

    “He was fourth in the next year’s race at top weight – probably the field was a bit slow for him – then he retired after the next one.”

    “He also won the Kerry National at Listowel [in 2002] and his jumping was key that day as well because there were a few falls. But he excelled around Aintree because it is the ultimate test of jumping. I never rode another horse like him around Aintree, he was so smart. Absolute dynamite.”

    The trainer’s daughter Jane Mangan told RTE on Sunday: “A few days ago my family said goodbye to the horse that made their dreams come true.

    “The day was always going to come, it was always going to be sad, but rather than being sad, we’re grateful that we had him and that he proved that fairy tales do come true for ordinary people.”

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